Yorkshire is riding high on its sporting success, holding its own in the Olympic tables time after time and with the region’s reputation growing globally.
Its success is down to the drive of individuals and, with five coaches from Yorkshire shortlisted in the UK Coaching Awards 2017, to the teams behind them that make it work.
And as the Brownlee brothers’ coach is shortlisted for a lifetime achievement award, he says the region’s success is dependent on nurturing ‘homegrown talent’.
“We’ve got a lot going on in Yorkshire,” said Malcolm Brown MBE. “It’s important that we can sustain that – it’s fragile.”
Mr Brown is among five Yorkshire coaches shortlisted for awards. The former UK Athletics head coach, with 35 years’ experience largely on a voluntary basis, is in part credited for helping to bring world-class sporting success to the region.
As well as taking the UK Athletics team to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, he was the British Triathlon Olympic performance manager at London 2012. He has coached some of the top names in sport, including Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, Vicky Holland and Non Stanford, with runner Rachael Bamford crediting him with kick-starting her own success.
He is also the founder and director of triathlon at the Leeds Triathlon Centre and was an “integral force” in establishing The Brownlee Centre, and to top it all, has coached Leeds triathletes to an unprecedented five Olympic medals and 89 World, Commonwealth and European medals – with 37 gold.
The 69-year-old, from Yeadon, said he has been committed to ensuring there are opportunities for Yorkshire talent to grow locally, working closely with Leeds Beckett and the University of Leeds. This, he said, is critical to the region’s success.
“A lot of the athletes that represented Britain in 2000 in Sydney had to leave Yorkshire in order to progress their careers,” he said. “I wanted to establish a partnership with Government bodies, programmes that were available to fulfil their training requirements while staying in Yorkshire – and in higher education. It’s not a good thing to export your talent elsewhere in the country, if we can deliver it locally. There’s been a bit of a snowball effect.”
Unaware he had been nominated, he said it is an honour: “There will be a massive number of volunteers who have given their lives to coaching, in different areas.”
Also shortlisted across different categories are four further coaches from Yorkshire who have, judges said, contributed to “transforming” communities.
Bob Muir, from Leeds in the Coach Developer category, wrote the first ever sports coaching degree in 2007, and works with the English Institute of Sport and Royal Yachting Association to develop coaching programmes.
Running group Fitmums and Friends is a finalist for Intervention of the Year following the club’s successful growth since 2009, with 850 members now taking part in sessions.
Steve Robinson, from Newton-on-Ouse in York, is a finalist for High Performance Coach, having overseen England Golf’s National Women’s team in defending their European title. And Wetherby’s Ady Gray is shortlisted as Children’s Coach of the Year for his karate work with youngsters across the region.
“It’s a surprise but it’s good to be recognised in any way for what you do over the years,” he said. “I just love every single class I teach, but even just to see the kids develop from the young ones through to the high level is something I enjoy.”
Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee commented on the award nominations: “It’s fantastic that Malcolm had been nominated for a lifetime achievement award.
“Malcolm not only provided a critical role in my development but in the development in hundreds of other athletes; young and old. He is absolutely correct that the coaching framework locally is crucial to the continued development of the region’s next champions.”
Mark Gannon, chief executive of UK Coaching, said: “We had an unprecedented amount of nominations across a multitude of sports and from every corner of the country. This diverse group of people put coaching at the heart of physical activity and sport, and make a difference in many walks of life.”
Winners will revealed at a ceremony in London on November 30.